Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Knight: 611(a) Contains General Intent Mens Rea

In U.S. v. Knight, No. 05-14537 (July 3, 2007), the Court held that 18 U.S.C. § 611(a), which criminalizes improperly voting in a federal election, contains a "general intent" mens rea requirement and is therefore not impermissibly vague. It upheld the conviction of an alien who violated the statute by voting in the 2000 Presidential election.
The Court noted that the statute was silent as to intent, but the Court read a general intent requirement into the statute, which made the cime a constitutionally-sound general intent offense.
The Court also rejected Knight’s challenge to grand jury instructions which, he claimed, deprived the grand jury of the option not to indict. The Court noted that similar language had been approved in U.S. v. Navarro-Vargas, 408 F.3d 1184 (9th Cir. 2005). The Court also found the instructions were sound.